TV Review: Sherlock

I can't believe I forgot to talk about this! Way back in the summer of 2010, the BBC aired a new series titled Sherlock. Created by Steven Moffat, the same guy that created the currently-airing version of Doctor Who, I heard great things about the series. It wasn't until I came upon the episodes on Netflix that I got a chance to sit down and watch them. Boy, am I glad that I did!

Pretty much everyone knows who Sherlock Holmes is so I won't go into too much detail. For those of you that don't (shame on you), here is the nitty gritty: Sherlock Holmes is a strange man who reaches grand conclusions with only the smallest of details. Since he is not much of a "people person," he requires someone to not only help him out in day-to-day activities (such as shopping) but also someone he can bounce thoughts off of. This person is John Watson, a former military doctor who longs for more action in his life. Together, they help Scotland Yard solve the toughest cases.

First, I want to talk about the bad points of the show. There really is just one. The entire first season is a mere three episodes long. Just as we're starting to love Sherlock and his insane ways, they unlovingly dump us on the floor. There is a second season, which is also only three episodes, but it didn't start until this month! I haven't watched it yet so I'm hoping it's as good as the first.

Now. Let's talk about the good points. Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely amazing as Sherlock. He is able to bring forth the smugness and frustration that is Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock knows he is smarter than everyone else in the room and it frustrates him when people miss things he considers obvious. Also, Martin Freeman is an ideal match as Watson. Watson isn't there to be brilliant or awesome. He is just there to continually keep Sherlock grounded in the real world. I couldn't imagine anyone else in these roles. The show would fall apart of these two weren't so good.

I also love the cinematography of the show. In the first episode, as Sherlock notices things, random words appear on the screen. It isn't until Sherlock pieces everything together for us that we realize what the words mean to him. For once, we get to see a bit of the inner workings in Sherlock's brain. No wonder the world is so frustrating for him.

For you old-school Sherlock fans, there are some minor changes but not a lot. He no longer smokes pipes (not even cigar specials). Instead, he uses nicotine patches. He claims the nicotine helps him think but it isn't convenient to smoke in London nowadays. We do get to see him playing the violin a little. Though, I fully admit that it isn't very good violin playing. Perhaps we'll get something better in the next season.

Sherlock is an awesome piece of television. If you get a chance to see it, be it on PBS or on Netflix, do it. You definitely will not regret it. And, if we're lucky, we'll get to see the second season sooner. I'd hate to have a wait another year and a half to see what happens!

TV Review: Grimm

Last week, I talked about ABC's fantasy drama Once Upon A Time. Now I'd like to talk about NBC's fantasy drama Grimm. The two shows are similar yet so different. Both shows revolve around fairy tale characters in the real world. However, where Time is a pretty straight forward drama, Grimm is a gritty police drama.

Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli) is a homicide detective who recently finds out that he is a descendent of the famous Grimm brothers. However, the Grimm brothers were more than just fairy tale writers. They were part of a group of hunters that fight supernatural creatures. Now that Burkhardt's powers have been activated, it is up to him to protect humanity from the evil creatures in the world.

I am always very excited when fairy tale series come to television. Even though I know in my heart that they could be very disappointing, I always set aside time to tune in. Unfortunately, Grimm is not a very good show. Despite wanting desperately to enjoy it, I found it severely lacking. Instead of focusing on the fantastical creatures, we are relegated to watching Burkhardt try to solve a crime without letting anyone, including his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby), know that the responsible party is an animalistic creature masquerading as a human. It is painful to watch Burkhardt trying to figure out what is going on. Even though his Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) left him a trailer full of information about the various creatures, he barely touches any of it. Sure, there are a few scenes of him slowly paging through a book but that isn't anything like real research. If the show wanted to focus on the police aspect, they should stop being so half-hearted about it. There are plenty of good cop shows to show them how to do it.

It's not always a good idea to compare shows. However, since Once Upon A Time and Grimm both debuted around the same time and contain the same underlying plot, it's difficult not to compare them. Time is a great fantasy drama that drops hints about the true identity of each character. Grimm, on the other hand, is muddled and doesn't seem to know what it is. I am going to give Grimm a few more episodes to redeem itself. I'm just not going to hold my breath waiting for redemption.

TV review: The Cape

The 2-hour pilot for NBC's The Cape aired on Sunday, January 9 at 9PM. I've been waiting for this show to air for a long time. While I wasn't able to watch the show live, I did record it to watch last night.

Vince Faraday is a cop in Palm City. Many of the officers around him are corrupt and a mysterious blogger known as Orwell has been outing them. When the city's new police chief is killed by a masked criminal called Chess, Faraday sets out to make things in his hometown right again. He joins Ark, a private security company, run by Peter Fleming, on the edge of privatizing the police force.

Shortly after joining Ark, Orwell sends Faraday a message pointing him toward a shipment of a deadly toxin. Faraday and his partner, Marty Voyt, check out the cargo train delivering the shipment. Unfortunately, Voyt instead delivers Faraday into the hands of Chess, who is none other than Fleming himself. Fleming frames Faraday as the masked villain and sends his security force, armed with Nikon rifle scopes, to catch him. During the chase, the news helicopters above see him die in a large explosion.

However, Faraday is not dead. He is discovered by the Carnival of Criminals, a strange circus-themed group of bank robbers. Faraday buys his freedom with his Ark passcard. Soon, Faraday asks Max Malini, the head of the circus, to help him clear his name and get back to his wife and son. Max and the others teach Faraday hypnosis, cape tricks, and other skills that will transform him into the superhero known as The Cape.

As The Cape, Faraday goes after Chess and his henchmen. While on one such mission, he comes across Orwell trying to get the dirt on Chess. Quickly, Orwell and Faraday join forces to take back their city.

I had a lot of fun watching this show. My favorite character, by far, is Max Malini. He's not only wise, he's also funny and devious and just plain awesome. I almost wish he was the superhero! As for the rest of the characters, I am willing to give them time to grow. It seems like a lot was shoved into two episodes, almost like the audience missed a season and had to catch up to the storyline. I think that the writers should have kept the pilot as an origination story and kept some of the baddies for later. Hopefully they will not disappoint me. I want this show to be successful and, in order to do that, it has to be good.

TV review: The Fabulous Beekman Boys

How many of you knew that Discovery has a channel called Planet Green? I didn't. At least not until The Fabulous Beekman Boys appeared. (New episodes aired Wednesday nights at 9PM.) Yes, Discovery has dragged me back into reality television.

The show revolves around city boys, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, purchasing a farm in upstate New York called Beekman Farm. Their goal is to turn the farm into their main source of income. In order to do that, Brent (a doctor that previously worked for Martha Stewart) works and lives at the farm full-time while Josh (a former drag queen who is now an ad exec) works in New York City during the week then commutes up to the farm on weekends. Luckily, they have farmer John to help them tend the goat herd that gives them milk for their cheese and soap. Unfortunately, they don't have someone to help them through the strains of a long-distance relationship.

When I first saw the commercial for the show, I was delighted. It was touted to be a "City Boys Become Farmers" type show. (Yes, there are a lot of Green Acres comparisons.) The commercials claimed the boys knew nothing about being farmers and everything they knew, they learned from Google. In reality, the show is about the strains on their relationship. The pair have been together for 10 years and, for the first time, they aren't together all the time. Josh spends 5 days a week in New York City, which is 3 hours away by train, while Brent stays at the farm working on building the Beekman empire. A lot of the episodes revolve around Josh complaining that he never sees his boyfriend as Brent reminds him that they agreed to this "year of sacrifice" or Josh complaining that he's tired from working hard all week only to return to the farm so Brent can hand him a list of farm chores. Yet, underneath it all, you can see that Josh and Brent really do love each other and, if they can get the farm to a point where it can financially support them, things will be happy again.

So what is my opinion on the show? The 10-episode season ended last night. I purposely waited until the end to talk about it. The first few episodes were annoying. I wanted the "How do we milk a goat? Google it!" show and not the 'Gay guys whine/cry a lot' that we were given. However, by the end of the season, I was hooked. I really want to try their cheese and smell their soap. I want Josh to quit his city job and be a real farmer. I want Brent to relax a bit...though I know it won't happen. The show has been renewed for a second season. I'm hoping that there will be less whining this time around.

Movie review: The A-Team

Over the weekend, my husband and I took in The A-Team. Both of us are children of the 80s and fondly remember the television show so we were intrigued to see how it would play out on the big screen. Needless to say, both of us enjoyed it immensely.

When the movie begins, our four favorite military men aren't together yet. Hannibal (Liam Neeson) is working with Face (Bradley Cooper), but they are separated and haven't met B.A. ('Rampage' Jackson) or Murdock (Sharlto Copley). The way the guys get together is a bit of a stretch...but try to look past that part. Once the Fab Four have been united, things take off.

Eight years later, the boys are in Iraq doing their thing. Hannibal gets them unofficially assigned to a mission retrieving a set of lost/stolen plates for a US Mint printing press. Of course, just as they were completing their mission, things go haywire. The plates are, once again, stolen and their commanding officer is killed. The team gets the blame and the four of them are carted off to four different prisons. If you've watched the TV series, you know that they have to break out of prison and try to clear their names.

While I know that the movie needs to set up the back story, it seems to take forever to do so. Luckily, you don't really realize how much time has passed setting everything up. It's not until the boys are tossed in jail that you go "Wow. We're only THIS far into the storyline?" The action is amazing and it keeps you going from scene to scene. The main downfall of the movie is Jessica Biel's characters. I understand that the writers felt they needed to add a female character in order to keep the movie "gender friendly." However, that's just not the basis of the series. It's OK to skip adding female characters JUST to have a chick in the group. She was completely unnecessary and I felt that she brought down the movie just a little. But not enough to skip seeing the movie entirely. If you get a chance to see this in theaters, jump at the chance. I think that the action deserves the big screen.

TV review: Modern Family

Somehow I have forgotten to talk about THE best show of the season - Modern Family. The show is a look into an extended family with a sort of reality show spin to it. There are three separate households that are related to each other. There's Jay's (Ed O'Neill) house where he lives with his second wife, Gloria (Sofia Vergara), and her son, Manny (Rico Rodriguez). Then there's Claire's (Julie Bowen), Jay's oldest child from his first marriage, house. She lives with her husband Phil (Ty Burrell) and her three children, Hayley (Sarah Hyland), Alex (Ariel Winter), and Luke (Nolan Gould). Finally, there's Mitchell's (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) house. He lives with his partner Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and their adopted baby girl, Lily.

The three households interact, much like any family would, but each is punctuated with a dialogue directed at the camera/crew. This gives the show a better look into the family dynamics. Instead of just showing the tense relationship between Jay and his out-of-the-closet son, Mitchell, there will be a scene focusing on how the pair interacts, but then the camera will cut to a monologue with each character separately telling how they relate to either each other or the situation. While this sounds like it could be boring, it's often the funniest part of each episode.

This mockumentary way of telling a story isn't particularly new. Christopher Guest does it in all of his movies. However, it is new to a weekly television series. It can be rather difficult to get the storyline across to the audience without getting distracted by the various monologues. Yet it works here. Both the writing and the acting is absolutely brilliant. The show airs on Wednesday nights at 9PM on ABC. I'm not sure if it's available on Hulu, but ABC often reruns episodes. You definitely need to catch this one!

JDorama review: Mei-chan no Shitsuji

Title: Mei-chan no Shitsuji Also known as: Mei-chan's Butler Broadcast dates: 1/13/09 - 3/17/09 Number of episodes: 10 Genre: Romantic Comedy Cast: Eikura Nana, Mizushima Hiro, Sato Takeru, Yamada Yu Plot: Shinonome Mei (Eikura) lived an ideal, if poor, life helping her parents run their udon shop in the countryside. After her parents sudden accidental death, it is revealed that Mei is the heir to a multibillionaire. Now she must attend a prestigious school in order to learn how to become a lady. However, at this school, every student has a handsome butler. Including Mei. What is good: Mizushima Hiro is wonderful as Mei's butler, Shibata Rihito What is bad: It plays out pretty much like any other "new girl in school" drama, except with butlers! Letter rating: B Overall: I made a decision to marathon this entire series in one day. Since it's only ten episodes, it wasn't a difficult task. As a whole, I found the series to be fairly decent. Nothing stood out as fabulous but nothing was particularly terrible either. The plot had an interesting take on the lady/butler relationship, even though it had a predictable ending. However, I was left feeling like there should have been a bit more meat on these bones.

Grammy Awards

The Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS. I normally don't watch award shows, but my husband is a Lady Gaga fan and he wanted to see if she would win anything. Luckily for me, Green Day performed so that made up for having to sit through the lengthiness of an award show. (Seriously - fewer commercial breaks and just shut the hell up.)

I found most of the performances to be rather dull. Mainly because, for some reason, whoever was in charge of mixing the songs decided that the lead vocals weren't nearly as important as the background vocals or the horn sections. I spent half of Beyonce's performance going "What is she singing? I can't hear a word she's saying!" The other half was "Huh. Is she singing an Alanis song?" Green Day's performance had the potential to be amazing, but, yet again, the mixer screwed everything up. Isn't this the reason they have rehearsals?

On the awards side, I was stunned that a country music band (Zac Brown Band) won Best New Artist. They were up against some tough competition. I guess this shows that this particular award was given out on merit instead of popularity. Otherwise one of the pop girls would have been a shoo-in. I was also a little surprised that "Single Ladies" won Song of the Year. It's not really a great song. Sure, it's catchy and it gets stuck in your head, but that doesn't make it great. Ah, well, award show...popularity contest and all that.

So, as usual, I was an unimpressed with the Grammy Awards as I have ever been. Will I watch next year? I don't know. I guess we'll see what rocks the music world this year. Maybe next year will be more interesting.

TV: Cougar Town

One of the new shows that I have been watching this season is Cougar Town. To be honest, I never heard about the show until my husband recorded it for me one night. The show had me laughing my butt off right from the beginning.

Here's the premise: Jules (Courtney Cox) is a recently divorced woman with a 17-year old son. With a bit of help from her best friends - Ellie (Christa Miller) and Laurie (Busy Phillips) - she tries to put a little excitement in her life and, maybe, find a good man along the way.

At first glance, it doesn't look like it would be anything spectacular. However, the writing and the cast are absolutely perfect. None of the characters are overbearing (or at least they aren't for very long) and you always feel like you are in on the joke. I know that some people are put-off by the title. Look past the words and let the laughter commence!

TV review: Torchwood: Children of Earth

Last week, BBC America aired the five-part Torchwood mini-series, Children of Earth. It begins a short while after season 2 ends. The team hasn't forgotten their fallen members, but they are moving on. As always, there is another alien force threatening the earth. This time around, it's the 456, an unknown alien race that appeared 44 years earlier and have returned, speaking through the children of the world.

The show is a lot grittier than what we are used to. Gwen loses hope. One of the team members dies. Jack is forced to do something pretty evil. Meanwhile, society around them is falling into ruin. I really did love the show, even though every episode feels like "how else can we screw over Jack..." and Jack doesn't come out of the ordeal unscathed. He comes out very broken. I would love to see another season of Torchwood, especially in light of everything they've gone through. However, it doesn't seem like it would be possible. Most of the team is dead and those that are left are scattered. Where can they go from here?